Fats Domino: Swanee River Hop


Swanee River Hop


Fats Domino (piano)


"They Call Me the Fat Man...": The Legendary Imperial Recordings (EMI/Capitol E2-7-96784-2)

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Fats Domino (piano).

Composed by Stephen Foster. Arranged by Antoine Domino and Dave Bartholomew


Recorded: New Orleans, February, 1953


Rating: 100/100 (learn more)

Singer/pianoman Fats Domino and arranger/bandleader Dave Bartholomew took the polished loping rhythm of Professor Longhair into the studio, added some pop standards patina, and emerged with scores of regional and national hits, from "The Fat Man" to "Let the Four Winds Blow." Some of Domino's best early Fifties recordings were collected on his second album, not-quite-aptly titled Rock and Rollin'. Tunes like "Second Line Jump" and "Fats' Frenzy" are great piano-sax instrumentals—perfect New Orleans r&b exemplars—and "Swanee River Hop" is a blistering, killin'-the-keys classic.

Roll over, Stephen Foster, and tell young Antoine the news! Played first as a boogie by Albert Ammons, this wheelhouse revision of "Swanee River" leaves Foster tossed overboard and steamboat Domino chooglin' downstream at a take-no-passengers speed. Although Fats has said he used to let his band sit out while he played the "Hop" totally solo, the rough studio recording of it includes a drummer (likely Earl Palmer) flailing along on cymbals to keep pace with the on-rushing piano. It's the Fat Man's eighty-eights driving all the way, striding up and down the keyboard, pummeling the bass from gumbo to Gulf, scattering ripe clusters and rippling single notes, rockin' the levee-high bridge and rollin' past the Treme-lo finish. This river at flood stage is definitely less Swanee and more NOLA Creole.

Reviewer: Ed Leimbacher

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